Simple Tips to Prepare for the Worst & Be Your Best in F&I

Recession. A term that sends shivers down the spine of every dealership…and, well, all of us, too. And though most economists are saying we’re not in one quite yet, there’s still predictions that one is coming later this year.

Knock on wood they’re wrong. 

Economic uncertainty is not the time to stick your head in the sand…it’s a time to be prepared to do things better so that you can stave off any potential crises if they do pop up.

There are 4 steps that F&I managers can implement now (if they aren’t already) that can make potential headwinds this year easier to navigate…

  1. Training Refreshers - Having your F&I managers up-to-date on the latest techniques for closing a higher PVR is always important but never more than when the market slows down and customers begin to say ‘No’ more than they say ‘Yes’. 

Role playing, walking through recent deals, examining video (if your store records transactions)...all of these are helpful ways to sharpen skills and correct bad habits. Have your staff do it…no need for outside trainers to come in and charge you a high fee during lean times.

  1. Compliance Check-Up - As with training, it’s important to make sure your compliance procedures are updated and working well. It’s about reducing liabilities and boosting the financial security of your dealership. 

No different than seeing your doctor once a year to make sure everything is running right.

Weekly or monthly F&I audits, online or digital learning focused on state/Federal compliance guidelines, and even taking the step of consolidating all F&I products under one company can help strengthen your overall compliance health.

  1. Better Post-Sale Follow Up - Something that is often missed during the good times is proper post-sale follow up. Those simple but powerful calls to recent customers to see how they are enjoying their new car and asking if they had given thought to adding products not chosen when they were in the dealership.

And not just once…follow up a couple of times. Regular intervals like 3-6-12 months out. It’s a touchpoint that goes a long way to establishing a great relationship with your local buyers and will pay off in increased referrals when times are tougher. 

Those customers will remember that you did not forget about them and that is priceless trust-building for any business.

  1. Transparency in Pricing - at a time when car shoppers are paying upwards of $1k for a new car payment, now is not the time to play the shell game in F&I. Don’t pack payments and don’t give a murky presentation on the cost of products and protections.

Be upfront about coverages, financing options that fit THEIR needs, not yours, and if the recession does come, be sure to offer realistic pricing. You may lose a little in PVR but the goodwill you will get in return from fair pricing that benefits the buyer will be worth it.

When you think about it, all of these are solid best practices no matter what the future economic climate brings. Treat every customer with the same respect and trust you would want for yourself. It’s really just that easy.

And if the worst comes, your F&I staff will be prepared to deliver solid PVR and high CSI ratings at a time when customers are the most sensitive to how they are treated during a big purchase.

date published
May 19, 2023

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